Plank 9: Pathways to College and Career
Preparing students for college and career is a critical responsibility of our nation’s K-12 education system. Policymakers should reform the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to more effectively align secondary and postsecondary institutions and employers to train students to meet the demand of regional and state labor markets; encourage efforts to integrate technical and academic courses; and support state efforts to link student college completion, transcript, and employment data to evaluate the effectiveness of these programs. Such efforts should also align high school graduation requirements with criteria associated with admissions to postsecondary education and success in credit-bearing courses. Reforms should support a college-going culture through the expansion of rigorous secondary school curricula (e.g., Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate) and effective models, such as dual enrollment and Early College High Schools that offer credits for high school and college and that are of sufficiently high quality, aligned to college and career standards, and accepted by (in-state) postsecondary institutions, and intentional, college-focused school counseling programs. Student Graduation Plans should be implemented, including the provision of college, career, and financial assistance counseling. And schools should enhance capacity and encourage accountability within institutions of higher education to assist academically at-risk students, reduce remediation rates, and increase college completion. A Civic Marshall Plan should be developed for the second Grad Nation goal—for the United States to have the highest college attainment rates in the world by 2025. Efforts are underway to begin discussions in earnest about the outlines for such a plan and the need for annual accountability in highlighting progress and challenge in meeting this national goal. Without such a plan and accountability, the nation risks repeating the failures of the past in setting bold national goals and not attaining them.